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Plant Cell. 2014 Jan;26(1):454-64. doi: 10.1105/tpc.113.120311. Epub 2014 Jan 28.

NITROGEN LIMITATION ADAPTATION recruits PHOSPHATE2 to target the phosphate transporter PT2 for degradation during the regulation of Arabidopsis phosphate homeostasis.

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Laboratory of Plant Molecular Biology, Rockefeller University, New York, New York 10021.


The NITROGEN LIMITATION ADAPTION (NLA) gene was initially shown to function in nitrogen limitation responses; however, recent work shows that the nla mutant hyperaccumulates Pi, phenocopying the Pi signaling mutant pho2. PHO2 encodes a putative E2 conjugase, UBC24. Here, we show that NLA is an E3 ligase that specifically requires UBC24 for polyubiquitination in Arabidopsis thaliana. Among five members of the Pht1 Pi-transporter family tested, NLA associates only with PT2 (Pht1;4). The NLA-UBC24 pair mediates polyubiquitination of PT2 but not PT1. Posttranslational decay of PT2 at high Pi is blocked in pho2 and inhibited by MG132, indicating the requirement of UBC24 and 26S proteasomes. Consistent with NLA/UBC24 function, induced NLA expression causes a UBC24-dependent decrease in PT2 levels. Confocal microscopy of fusion proteins revealed an NLA/PT2 interaction at the plasma membrane. Collectively, these results show that under Pi-replete conditions, NLA and UBC24 target the PT2 transporter for destruction. During the Pi deprivation response, NLA and PHO2 transcripts are cleaved by miR399 and miR827, respectively, and our results suggest that this downregulation relieves the posttranslational repression of PT2, allowing it to accumulate and participate in Pi uptake. Our work provides additional molecular details describing Pi signaling/homeostasis regulation by identifying NLA and UBC24 as partners and PT2 as one of their downstream targets.

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